Corncockle or Agrostemma githago is a dainty pink or purple flowering plant orginially from the European wheat fields.
It was a very common weed in the 19th Century growing continuously side by side to the Wheat. It is probable that up to the 20th Century most wheat was contaminated with the pitted seeds of a Corncockle.
It is now more commonly an alien species to many countries; its sporadic growth due to imports of wheat worldwide.
In the UK, intensive and mechanical farming has now made the growth of the weed with crops uncommon. The changes in harvesting seasons and techniques for farming, including herbicides, make Corncockle’s less familiar nowadays.
Corncockle’s can grow up to 1 metre tall and are covered in tiny hairs. In the summer months the plant produces beautiful pink or purple flowers with delicate black lines on the petals. They can grow in various places such as fields, roadsides, railway lines and waste places.
ALL PARTS OF THE PLANT ARE POISONOUS AND CONTAIN GLYCOSIDE GITHAGIN AND AGROSTEMNIC ACID.
However they have also been used in folk medicine to treat parasites dispute their toxic attributes.
Symptoms of ingestion include severe stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, weakness and slow breathing.